Several months ago, Paivi Räsänen, a Finnish lawmaker, physician, mother of five, and wife of a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland was investigated by the police for her posting on Twitter and Facebook of Romans 1: 24-27 with these accompanying words:
How can the church’s doctrinal foundation, the Bible, be compatible with the lifting up of shame and sin as a subject of pride?
Her comment was prompted by the decision of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland to “become an official partner of the 2019 LGBT Pride events,” which Räsänen rightly believes conflicts with biblical truth about homosexuality.
On November 4, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Finland issued a press release that said:
According to the Prosecutor General, there is reason to believe that because of the defamation of homosexuals by the violation of their human dignity, Ms Räsänen is guilty of incitement to hatred against a group. Therefore, there will be a preliminary investigation in this matter. The preliminary investigation will be carried out by the Helsinki Police Department.
On that day, the police interrogated Räsänen for four hours about a pamphlet titled “Male and Female He Created Them” she had written in 2004 that potentially violates Section 10 of the Criminal Code that states the following:
A person who makes available to the public or otherwise spreads among the public or keeps available for the public information, an expression of opinion or another message where a certain group is threatened, defamed or insulted on the basis of its race, skin colour, birth status, national or ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation or disability or a comparable basis, shall be sentenced for ethnic agitation to a fine or to imprisonment for at most two years.
There are several problems with this law. First, the term “sexual orientation” should never be included in anti-discrimination policies or laws or in “hate crimes” laws. Unlike skin color, birth status, or nation of origin, which, because they are objective, immutable conditions that involve no volitional acts, are morally neutral conditions, “sexual orientation” is constituted by subjective feelings and volitional acts that are legitimate objects of moral assessment. Humans have every right to discriminate between right and wrong conduct—and that includes sexual conduct.
Second, if the definition of “sex” can be revised to include a condition that is not sex and, in fact, is wholly non-material (i.e., “gender identity,” or feelings), then surely “sexual orientation” will expand as well, likely to include other conditions constituted by subjective feelings and deviant sexual acts like paraphilias. The American Psychological Association’s Consensual Non-Monogamy Task Force already has a petition that includes a request to include “consensual non-monogamy as a protected class.” For those who aren’t up to date on euphemisms for sexual deviance, “consensual non-monogamy” (aka “polyamory”) is, in plain English, open adultery or sexual infidelity gussied up (or covered up) with psychological mumbo-jumbo.
Third, this law effectively bans parts of the Old and New Testaments. It censors public speech—including what pastors and priests may preach. And if “progressives” get their druthers, it’s coming to America via the Equality Act, which is on the tiptop of the legislative list of regressive lawmakers.
Here’s the irony. A law that treats the expression of biblical truth about volitional homosexual acts as a defamatory insult is itself a defamatory insult to theologically orthodox Christians for whom the Word of God is central to their identity.
Everyone’s beliefs about morality or religion necessarily imply that someone else’s beliefs are wrong and likely destructive. If the religious beliefs of theologically orthodox Christianity are true (which they are), then those of Islam are false and undermine human flourishing. If Islam is true (which it’s not), then the deeply held beliefs of Christians, Jews, and atheists are false and undermine human flourishing.
Moreover, if theologically orthodox Christian beliefs about homosexuality are true, and those who don’t repent of homosexuality will be eternally separated from God, then is it defamatory and insulting to express those beliefs? Would expressing them be an act of hatred or of love? Do we want the government deciding which moral or religious convictions are true? On what basis could such a decision be made?
When we are dealing with disputed issues related to ultimate meaning, epistemology, ontology, teleology, morality/ethics, the role of government, etc., people will feel uncomfortable. The moral or ethical legitimacy of speech cannot be determined by the subjective feelings of hearers because every moral claim means that someone’s feelings could be hurt.
If we want to be free to try to ascertain truth, to answer life’s big questions, then we must be willing to endure uncomfortable feelings. Do we want to wrestle freely with these thorny questions in the public square and academia or not:
- Why are we here? What is the chief end of man?
- Are the claims of Islam, Judaism, Christianity, or atheism true or false?
- Are these worldviews forces for good, evil, both, or neither?
- What determines whether volitional acts are moral or immoral? In other words, how do we know that a specific act is right or wrong?
- Is morality wholly subjective and relative or does objective moral truth exist?
- What constitutes harm?
- What is the purpose of government?
- What are the limits of government?
- What’s the best form of government to ensure maximum freedom and yet maintain order?
- Does marriage have a nature, or do societies create it out of whole cloth?
- If marriage is wholly a cultural creation with no intrinsic nature, why limit it to two people, or unrelated people, or conceive of it as a romantic/erotic union?
- Do children have an intrinsic right to be raised whenever possible by their biological parents or is biological connection wholly irrelevant and meaningless?
- Does biological sex have any meaning, or is it as meaningless as eye color?
- If it has meaning, does that meaning entail any rights?
- When in conflict, should subjective feelings about maleness or femaleness supersede biological sex?
- Do some people have a right to force others to speak words to or about them or to participate in celebrations that violate their deeply held beliefs? If so, what is the origin of that right?
- Does the refusal to speak words to or about others or to participate in celebrations constitute hatred of others, or is it possible that such choices reflect love for them?
Answers to many of those questions will likely be experienced by half of society as defamatory insults, but it is impossible, unhealthy, illiberal, and dangerous to try to create a society in which no one feels uncomfortable. If we try to create such a society, it will be the powerful who will decide whose views must be silenced. The feelings of the silenced will not matter, and they will have no rights.
We see this happening right before our eyes as the irrational, science-denying “trans” cult accrues sufficient cultural power to silence speech, threaten religious liberty, and undermine the freedom to associate, all while defaming and insulting people based on their religion. #irony
For research on a book he is writing, author Rod Dreher just spent a week in Russia interviewing Christian dissidents who suffered grievously under the Communist regime. Dreher explained to former dissident Alexander Ogorodnikov his book’s thesis:
[E]migres from the USSR and Soviet-bloc countries are sensing the coming of a soft totalitarianism in the West, and to both fight it and prepare for it if it comes anyway, I’m seeking out the advice of Christians who endured the hard totalitarianism of Communist rule. They endured an Orwellian ordeal, while we in the West are today, and in the near future, facing a dystopia that has more in common with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.”
Ogorodnikov who, because of his Christian faith, had been thrown into a mental institution and then “jailed and tortured in the gulag for about a decade” responded,
I’m already shocked by the totalitarianism that already exists in the West, within social opinion…. Someone makes some kind of announcement that’s not up to progressive social standards, and immediately there’s a quarantine zone around them. It gets to the point just in order to be understood you have to constantly simplify, in order not to hurt or offend anyone.
Dreher’s response to Ogorodnikov should be the response of every Christian in the America:
That was the first thing he said to me, and it brought me to the edge of my chair. When a man who has suffered what Sasha Ogorodnikov has suffered under totalitarianism tells you that he sees signs of a new version of it emerging in the West, you had better pay attention.
Listen to this article read by Laurie:
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